SOAS University of London

The Pursuit of Pleasurable Work: an Anthropology of Craft and Craftspeople

Malian construction worker
Professor Trevor Marchand

Date: 11 May 2011Time: 6:15 PM

Finishes: 11 May 2011Time: 9:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Inaugural Lecture

Handiwork lends craftspeople a creative sense of agency to make, repair and transform the world in immediate, practical, hands-on ways. This lecture will discuss research on craft and apprenticeship among masons and carpenters in Yemen, Mali and the UK, and introduce emerging interdisciplinary interests in the complex relations between brain, hand and tool. Professor Marchand's studies expand popular notions of “intelligence” and champion the importance of vocational training and the spiritual pleasure to be found in skilled work.

Professor Trevor Marchand studied and practiced architecture (BSc McGill), and received a PhD in anthropology from SOAS, University of London. He has conducted fieldwork with masons in South Arabia and West Africa, and most recently with woodworkers and furniture makers in the UK. He is the author of Minaret Building & Apprenticeship in Yemen, The Masons of Djenné  and The Pursuit of Pleasurable Work (forthcoming), and co-producer of the documentary film Future of Mud. He curated an exhibition on Djenné’s architecture for the RIBA in London and is presently curating a show at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.

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Prof Trevor Marchand's Inaugural Lecture: The Pursuit of Pleasurable Work: an Anthropology of Craft and Craftspeople



Lassana Diabaté virtuoso player of the balafon

(Prelude from 18:15 - 18:30pm; Main concert at 20:15 - 20:45pm)

Lassana Diabaté, originally from Guinea, now resident in Mali, is a virtuoso player of the balafon, the 22 wooden key xylophone of the Mande peoples of West Africa. He is one of the top musicians of Mali today, and has performed regularly with the likes of bluesman Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, the star Malian female vocalist Babani Kone, and most recently, the acclaimed Mali-Cuba group, Afrocubism. He combines breathtaking interlocking rhythm with stunning melody drawn from the griot repertoire of the Mande countryside in which he was brought up.
Lassana is working closely with the AHRC funded "Beyond Text: Growing into Music" project, that looks at the way that children in specialist musical families acquire musical skills and knowledge.  He is advisor for the research being conducted in Mali and Guinea by Lucy Durán of the SOAS Music Department, and he also provides the stunning soundtrack to her film, "Do farala a kan - something has been added" which follows the paths of children in three griot families.

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Contact Tel: 020 7898 4013